The Smithfield Church

Denise Jordan Finley.  Photo by Jordan Finley.

Denise Jordan Finley, director of music, is a classically trained contralto who studied voice with Carol Randles (CSR, Albany, NY) and James Fitzwilliam (Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY) and was soloist at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, NY.  She has sung with the Tri-City (Schenectady, Albany, Troy) and Mid-Hudson (Poughkeepsie, NY) opera companies. She toured regionally in the role of the Blues Singer in Leonard Bernstein’s "Mass" with Michael Hume from the premier production at Lincoln Center. She appeared on CBS This Morning.  She studied conducting with J. Robert Sheehan of the Masterworks Choral in Albany, as well as with Arthur Bloom, conductor for the New York City Ballet, and has acted as music director in choral and orchestral settings, notably for The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, NY.  As a composer, Denise has received numerous national and international awards. Her musical setting for "Margaret, Are You Grieving" was published in the Gerard Manley Hopkins Review. To date, she has recorded six albums on the Dome Island Records Label.  She has served as minister of music and director of music at the Smithfield Church since 2004.

The director of music oversees the musical aspect of the spiritual life of the congregation. She connects with world-class guest artists whom she seeks from throughout our region who regularly enhance worship services and are showcased in church-sponsored concerts.  She directs the Smithfield Choir that was formed in 2011. The choir welcomes instrumentalists and singers who wish to join.


Nancy Brown holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of Michigan. She has been a public school music teacher, rehearsal and pit pianist for many musicals, soprano soloist, concert producer, accompanist, and choral director.  While raising her daughters, Nancy maintained a private piano studio of 35 students in her home. At the age of 35, she took up the organ and has served several churches in Connecticut and New York for the past 45 years as organist/choir director.   Nancy has three married daughters, one of whom is a professional violinist, and five grandchildren.  She has been a resident of the Smithfield Valley for the past 30 years with her husband, Dan Brown.

Will Carter.  Photo courtesy of Main St. Magazine. Will Carter has played organ for many years at major churches in New York City, including the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and the Church of Our Savior on Park Avenue. Three times he was elected Dean of the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Twice he has been decorated by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his service to church music. He served the Smithfield Church once or twice each month. He formerly owned Pine Plains Fine Wines and Spirits on Rt. 199 in Pine Plains, NY.  Will lived in Shekomeko, NY but has relocated to Laval, Quebec.

Jerry Kemmerer.  Photo by Denise Jordan Finley. Jerry Kemmerer
has served as organist at various churches throughout Dutchess County since 1982. He has studied music with local teachers as a child and later through classes at Dutchess Community College. His music ministry began at the Smithfield Presbyterian Church from 1982. Since then he has played regularly for the congregations of the Amenia and South Amenia Presbyterian churches, and Faith Assembly of God in Poughkeepsie. He presently serves the Smithfield Church several times each month. Jerry enjoys playing a mixture of America's most favorite and loved contemporary praise and worship songs of today blended with the unforgettable hymns of yesterday. Occasionally, classical music is mixed in. His goal as organist is to see our Lord and Savior exalted, and to see others encouraged in the Christian faith through the recognized words of well-known music. Jerry lives in Poughkeepsie, NY with his wife Dawn, and two children, Andrew and Allison. He is employed by IBM as a software engineer.

Michael Pennington is a pianist and organist originally from Peterborough, NH, and is currently studying mathematics and music at Vassar. He started piano lessons in kindergarten and has continued to the present. He began organ lessons in September 2016 and has already developed a deep fascination with organ repertoire. Michael is particularly interested in 20th and 21st Century music, and has in the past performed works by composers such as Olivier Messiaen and Frederic Rzewski. In his spare time, he enjoys tinkering with computers, programming, and sight-reading music.

Hampson Sisler is an organist and composer who has more than 100 works to his credit, including pieces for organ, chorus, concert band, chamber and symphony orchestra.  His works have been premiered in cities all over the world and are available on several CDs.  Dr. Sisler is an accomplished eye surgeon and medical ethicist as well as organist. He began playing in church when he was eleven, and at the age of seventeen was the youngest person ever to be awarded the American Guild of Organists’ coveted Fellowship Status.  He has played many of the greatest organs in the world in a long and distinguished career.  As an organ recitalist, he has performed in and around New York City, including the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  He has served as Music Director at more than a dozen churches, most recently at Central Presbyterian Church in New York City.  He is also the official organist for the Doctors’ Orchestral Society of New York.  His newest book of Christmas carols, A Midnight Clear, is dedicated to The Smithfield Church.  Hampson lives in New York City.

Laurie Woolever has a Masters in Music Education from the Crane School of Music and has sung with Robert Shaw at Lincoln Center as part of the Westminster Choir College.  She plays for the First Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Poughkeepsie NY, has been an accompanist at The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, and taught music for 33 years in the Hyde Park School District.  Laurie has two sons and lives in Hyde Park, NY.


The Smithfield Church frequently features outstanding instrumentalists for special services, as well as these regular contributors to The Smithfield Church Chamber Orchestra: